By Brendan Miller on February 3, 2024.
Two local advocacy groups are speaking out following Premier Danielle Smith’s introduction Wednesday of sweeping transgender policy.
“It was outrage right across our board,” says Ellie, a board member with Prism Medicine Hat, describing the association’s reaction following Smith’s announcement.
Prism Medicine Hat calls itself an experimental, non-hierarchical, community-led NGO created by passionate 2SLGBTQIA+ people in the community, and Ellie says most of their board members are transgender.
The advocacy group says they typically take more of a political stand on issues, then other non-profit groups and their members help organize protests and try to provide trans people resources and support.
Ellie told the News the UCP’s new policy places a new target on trans people, especially teens.
“Most of these kids, they don’t feel safe at home already. And to have someone oust them like that definitely increases the risk of suicide,” says Ellie. “It’s giving them a new target, a nice bright, shiny target to focus on.”
Ellie told the News that Prism believes more Albertans need to be educated on the statistics of high suicide rates among transgendered teenagers, and they are actively working to dispel misinformation around the subject.
“Education, I would say. People need to be educated because the statistics around trans kids, like suicide rates, or the fear of them just existing, is already horrendous.”
The Pride Association of Southeast Alberta provided the News with the following statement after its board members held an emergency meeting Thursday night.
The statement, provided by chair Emily Neigum-Witzke, reads:
“We want to start by saying that we aren’t born with hate, it’s taught – but so is compassion. We recognize that the 2SLGBTQ+ youth are at a significantly higher risk of homelessness, suicide and adversities due to not having safe spaces, or humans, and affirming care.
“We acknowledge that this risk is increasing at a terrifying rate for all youth. This risk is proportionate to the level of acceptance. We are here to support all youth and ALL our children. And we agree with Danielle Smith when she said this needs to be de-politicized, we are talking about human lives.
“The community, frontline workers and evidence based research NEEDs to be included in the discussion. We are more than happy to be included in the discussion. We are grateful to have both local and regional organizations who advocate to keep youth safe.”
The Pride Association has provided the News with the following resources for anyone seeking help:
“This is a heavy time for the many who are feeling hurt, and we understand the significant damage this will cause. If you are struggling, please reach out to the National Suicide Crisis Line at 988, the National Trans Helpline (which is ran by trans humans for trans humans) at 1-877-330-6366, and the Kids Helpline at 1-800-668-6868.”
Prism plans to reach out to other advocacy groups across the province and plans on participating in protests as early as next week.
The News has also learned students across the province are planning a walkout in protest on Feb. 7.